Predictive models of maternal harsh parenting during COVID-19 in China, Italy, and Netherlands

Madelon M E Riem*, Paul Lodder, Jing Guo*, Michelle Vrielink-Verpaalen, Marinus H van IJzendoorn, Marian J Bakermans-Kranenburg, Pietro De Carli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Background: 

The COVID-19 pandemic drastically impacted on family life and may have caused parental distress, which in turn may result in an overreliance on less effective parenting practices. 

Objective: 

The aim of the current study was to identify risk and protective factors associated with impaired parenting during the COVID-19 lockdown. Key factors predicting maternal harsh discipline were examined in China, Italy, and the Netherlands, using a cross-validation approach, with a particular focus on the role of allomaternal support from father and grandparents as a protective factor in predicting maternal harshness. 

Methods: 

The sample consisted of 900 Dutch, 641 Italian, and 922 Chinese mothers (age M = 36.74, SD = 5.58) who completed an online questionnaire during the lockdown. Results: Although marital conflict and psychopathology were shared risk factors predicting maternal harsh parenting in each of the three countries, cross-validation identified a unique risk factor model for each country. In the Netherlands and China, but not in Italy, work-related stressors were considered risk factors. In China, support from father and grandparents for mothers with a young child were protective factors. 

Conclusions: 

Our results indicate that the constellation of factors predicting maternal harshness during COVID-19 is not identical across countries, possibly due to cultural variations in support from fathers and grandparents. This information will be valuable for the identification of at-risk families during pandemics. Our findings show that shared childrearing can buffer against risks for harsh parenting during COVID-19. Hence, adopting approaches to build a pandemic-proof community of care may help at-risk parents during future pandemics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number722453
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • ABUSE
  • AMERICAN
  • CARE
  • CHILD MALTREATMENT
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • EMOTION
  • FATHERS
  • GRANDMOTHER
  • GRANDPARENTS
  • METAANALYSIS
  • MOTHERS
  • allomaternal support
  • cross-validation
  • father involvement
  • grandparents
  • harsh parenting

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